2

Once Upon A Time I used to have what I considered a glamorous life…

early 2000s

early 2000s

I traveled to Europe and Asia and all points in between for work at the drop of a hat.

my former chauffeur, Albert.  Amsterdam @2002-03

my former chauffeur, Albert.
Amsterdam @2002-03

I wore makeup every day, had lovely Great Lengths hair extensions, went shopping and to dinner with friends at FABU eateries. I had the luxury of working out 2-3 hours a day and felt LAZY if I did not. I could take long, hot soak-y baths alone in my tub. I did theater and spent a lot of time in front of a camera. My nails were always painted and mani/pedi’d. My face was carefully botox’d. I was thin (for me).

This was from the Manila newspaper- Lolita Miripuri and me, at some Boy George party in the Philippines @2007

This was from the Manila newspaper- Lolita Miripuri and me, at some Boy George party in the Philippines @2007

None of these things applies anymore.

I am digging through the refuse of my house, hair mussed up with graying roots at least 2 inches long… wearing a SCRUNCHIE and grubby running shorts and tee shirt. I have baby spittle or what have you drying on my shoulder. I have Newfoundland dog slobber drying on the back of my shorts and am covered in dog hair. My nails are ragged and unpolished on my hands- my feet have been haphazardly topped up of color by whatever lacquer I find in the 3 minutes I am using the toilet. A quick shower is an incredible luxury. Makeup ditto.

this is as good as it gets right now lol

this is as good as it gets right now lol

Would I trade this current life (and Maisie) for what I once had?

Nope. No. No way in Hell.

I’m much happier now. I am more relaxed, even if I am far less social. Though I am not happy with how I currently look (who ever IS?), I still feel more satisfaction and content than I’d ever felt before.

this little diva is my entire world <3

this little diva is my entire world ❤

If you would have told me 10 yrs ago that I’d be STARTING OVER as a new mother at 45, I would have laughed in your face. I was a different person 10 yrs ago, 5 yrs ago, 20 minutes ago…

my Maisie

my Maisie

When I look over my shoulder at this sleeping child next to me, I know without a doubt that it’s all worth it.

0

Part 3 of the Dumpster Diaries: The Upstairs Kitchen is a pain in the ASS and there’s now a BAT in the Basement

If you’re just seeing this post for the first time, parts 1 and 2 are here and here.

I live in a 102 yr old house that is long on rooms (7 bedrooms) and short on closet space. It was divided into 2 apartments around 1929 (hello Great Depression) and we’re the first single family to dwell in the house since then. As a result, I have an upstairs kitchen that I really don’t need and a downstairs one. I have an old servant’s bedroom off of the downstairs kitchen that I use as my ‘closet/clothing room’. I need to gut that room and turn it into another office/studio space for my oldest son… and eventually a playroom/tv room for Maisie when he leaves. My master bedroom is directly off of the upstairs kitchen. I want to turn that space into my clothing room. Currently, it is a storage room for forgotten furniture and junk.
 
Woke up at 11:30 am, not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed… not long after we’d woken up and I’d given the baby her breakfast, people started showing up out of the blue on my porch.

the first batch of Maisie's callers today... this girl has a far busier social life than I ever could!

the first batch of Maisie’s callers today… this girl has a far busier social life than I ever could!

We had about 10 visitors today- Maisie had a fantastic time.

Got her to nap- FINALLY- and thought “wow, ok, time to start on the upstairs kitchen”

Nope. She woke up within 10 minutes of that thought.

Isn't this cute? Apparently a 20 minute nap is all she needs to leave her refreshed and gorgeous. Wish she'd sleep MORE!

Isn’t this cute? Apparently a 20 minute nap is all she needs to leave her refreshed and gorgeous. Wish she’d sleep MORE!

I was informed by R that he heard a squeaking/rustling noise last night in the basement when he went to do laundry. My youngest son confirmed it today when HE went to put clothes into the washing machine.

Great, we have a possible bat in the house. Not the baseball kind, either.

I can't be sure, but this is what I envision in my head to be lurking in my basement

I can’t be sure, but this is what I envision in my head to be lurking in my basement

So I asked my oldest to watch Maisie while my youngest and I did laundry in the basement. I needed the boy with me as a witness just incase I was bitten by something and died of rabies on the concrete floor. Yes, I am a super chicken. I don’t care who knows.

I WISH this was my laundry room, but it isn't- mine resembles a dark, dank, scary dungeon- with squeaky bat noises now

I WISH this was my laundry room, but it isn’t- mine resembles a dark, dank, scary dungeon- with squeaky bat noises now

We did whites. I separated them and added the detergent and bleach while the (almost) 17 year old looked on.

C: “why are you separating the colors from the whites and why are you putting that stuff (BLEACH) in? I just use the soap”

Me: “That’s why your clothes look dingy when you wash them- you’re SUPPOSED TO separate them first and do this

I shook my head at his comment, because I’ve showed him probably 102 times how to separate/wash these clothes. It doesn’t compute in the male mind, evidently.

We didn’t see any bats- but C could hear the squeaking and rustling noise. I am hard of hearing, so I could not.

I figure, if it dies in the ductwork I will have to call someone to clean the ducts- which I’ve needed to do for years. A potentially dead and rotting bat is all the impetus I need to finally call the duct cleaners.

After a couple of loads of laundry, I said screw it and hauled the boy to the kitchen upstairs. My oldest was still watching the little girl for me, thank goodness.

We threw out SIXTEEN huge garbage bags of things and old boxes, etc- and still did NOT MAKE EVEN A DENT in that room!

this was AFTER 12 garbage bags had already been taken out of here

this was AFTER 12 garbage bags had already been taken out of here- the stove will be junked, too.

I have antique furniture stacked in there and there’s no way I can move that stuff by myself. We have boxes of old dvd movies and games- again, this is not my domain. R needs to sort through them.

there is no rhyme nor reason to the 'storage' in this room

there is no rhyme nor reason to the ‘storage’ in this room

I have a fridge and stove in there, too. I will junk the stove- let one of the scrappers take it- and maybe switch out for fridge for one my dad gave me that’s been in my garage for 2 yrs.

this room actually leads to another pantry full of antique linens and antique fiesta ware

this room actually leads to another pantry full of antique linens and antique fiesta ware

I called it a day after we threw out the last 5 bags, etc. I think I will start on my clothing room downstairs (throwing stuff out) tomorrow instead. It will be easier to look after Maisie at the same time if I do that room. All of the things in my clothing room are MINE and I don’t need help with that.

Wardrobe to Narnia. I am half-tempted to go there and leave this hell hole I call a house.

Wardrobe to Narnia.
I am half-tempted to go there and leave this hell hole I call a house.

7

Speaking more than one language makes you smarter: Bilingual people have more grey matter than those who only know their mother tongue

Maisie already knows English and Persian and a bit of Tagalog (Filipino).  I have one person in the house who has exclusively spoken Farsi (Persian) to her since she was 4 months old. She can respond/answer in both languages interchangeably. My mother and I add a few Filipino words here and there…

It’s official! Speaking more than one language makes you smarter: Bilingual people have more grey matter than those who only know their mother tongue

  • Being bilingual increases the grey matter in certain parts of the brain
  • This difference is not present if the other language known is sign language
  • Management of two spoken languages leads to cognitive advantages 

People who speak two or more languages have more grey matter in certain parts of their brain, a study has found.

But this difference is not present if the other language known is sign language.

Scientists found that being bilingual increases the size of the part of the brain responsible for attention span and short term memory.

A study by Georgetown University Medical Centre found adults who are polyglots have more grey matter, shown above in blue, but those who used sign language did not (file image)

A study by Georgetown University Medical Centre found adults who are polyglots have more grey matter, shown above in blue, but those who used sign language did not (file image)

In the past it had been thought children who spoke two languages could have been at a disadvantage because the presence of two vocabularies would lead to delayed language development.

But recent research has found they perform better on tasks that require attention, inhibition and short-term memory – collectively termed ‘executive control’ – than their monolingual peers.

Yet controversy still surrounded whether there was a ‘bilingual advantage’, because these differences were not observed in all studies.

Now a study by Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington DC has found adults who are polyglots have more grey matter, but those who use sign language do not.

The management of two spoken languages, rather than simply a larger vocabulary observed in practitioners of sign language, improved cognitive performance. Above, a mother and child practice signing (file image) 

The management of two spoken languages, rather than simply a larger vocabulary observed in practitioners of sign language, improved cognitive performance. Above, a mother and child practice signing (file image)

It adds to a growing understanding of how long-term experience with a particular skill – in this case management of two languages – changes the brain.

Dr Guinevere Eden said: ‘Inconsistencies in the reports about the bilingual advantage stem primarily from the variety of tasks that are used in attempts to elicit the advantage.

‘Given this concern, we took a different approach and instead compared grey matter volume between adult bilinguals and monolinguals.

‘We reasoned that the experience with two languages and the increased need for cognitive control to use them appropriately would result in brain changes in Spanish-English bilinguals when compared with English-speaking monolinguals.

‘And in fact greater grey matter for bilinguals was observed in frontal and parietal brain regions that are involved in executive control.’

The study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, explored why differences in grey matter are based on experiences.

Dr Olumide Olulade said: ‘Our aim was to address whether the constant management of two spoken languages leads to cognitive advantages and the larger grey matter we observed in Spanish-English bilinguals, or whether other aspects of being bilingual, such as the large vocabulary associated with having two languages, could account for this.’

Researchers compared the grey matter in bilinguals of both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English, with that of monolingual users of English.

Both ASL-English and Spanish-English bilinguals share qualities associated with bilingualism, such as vocabulary size.

Unlike bilinguals of two spoken languages, ASL-English bilinguals can sign and speak simultaneously, allowing the researchers to test whether the need to inhibit the other language might explain the bilingual advantage.

Dr Olulade added: ‘Unlike the findings for the Spanish-English bilinguals, we found no evidence for greater grey matter in the ASL-English bilinguals.

‘Thus we conclude that the management of two spoken languages in the same modality, rather than simply a larger vocabulary, leads to the differences we observed in the Spanish-English bilinguals.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3164163/It-s-official-Speaking-one-language-makes-smarter-Bilingual-people-grey-matter-know-mother-tongue.html#ixzz3g8SxjWj8

5

Tips, Ideas, ANY ADVICE NEEDED! My once-placid baby has turned into a screaming, crying diva this week!

this was once such a rare occurrence that I snapped this photo just to prove that she cried sometimes

this was once such a rare occurrence that I snapped these photos just to prove that she cried sometimes

I am losing my effing MIND.

Once upon a time, I had a baby who rarely cried. She smiled and coo’d and was almost ALWAYS agreeable. She napped twice a day and slept (mostly) through the night. She laughed and amused herself. She was SUPER social, loved being around lots of people. It was so unusual for her to cry that I even snapped a picture of her doing so once, just to show people. She was the PERFECT baby.

That was until last week when she turned 10 months old. She is STILL super social, but now she CRIES AND BEGS FOR ME TO PICK HER UP CONSTANTLY. Her shriek is so high pitched, it could break windows.

To add more fuel to the fire, I’ve been told by my doctor that I cannot pick her up for six weeks because my back is out- I haven’t complied. I just pop a pill and grin through the pain.

I’ve done EVERYTHING that the new-fangled attachment parenting books tell you to do (and mostly the opposite of how her brothers were raised 2 decades ago).

-she never ‘cried it out’
-I sleep within arm’s reach of her, her pack n play is next to my bed.
-when I attempted the ‘baby led weaning’ stuff, she decided to wean herself to curries and pizza
-she fell asleep every time with a simple “Frere Jacques” lullabye and some classical music in the background

All of this worked (and worked well) until this last week when she MORPHED into a demanding, crying, fit-throwing, entourage-needing diva.

It started with a BANG.

I am never called by my full name (Jessica). Never. It’s ALWAYS “Jess” or “Mom” or what-have-you.

Somehow I ticked Maisie off last week and did not come to her fast enough and was rewarded with her SCREAMING “JESSSSS-IIII-CAAAA!!!” clearly and OVER AND OVER.

I was shocked.

FIRST of all, how in the HELL does this child even know my first name?!

Secondly, where did she learn to throw a fit like that?????!

the struggle is real

the struggle is real

Suddenly, every time someone would leave the room, she’d SCREAM LIKE IT WAS A PERSONAL AFFRONT TO HER.

If folks walked by our house, with their strollers and dogs- perfect strangers, mind you- she’d lose her SHIT. “How DARE they not stop by the house?!”

she calls out to strangers who walk by our house and tries to make friends

she calls out to strangers who walk by our house and tries to make friends- this time it worked.

Yes, I KNOW this must be the ‘separation anxiety’ stage, but DAMN.

The struggle is real.

I want to preface this by saying I am NOT the most patient person I know. I wish I was. I am much better than I was with my older boys, this is certain. Older age has some benefits.

If my parents are here, sitting on my front porch, she will insist that they sing to her while she dazzles them with her superior dancing skills- this kid is a dancing fool and she can’t even WALK. Unless Papa walks away to get coffee or pee, she’s perfectly happy and all smiles.

If I tell her I will dress her up and ‘go to Aunt —‘s house’, she stops long enough to get a pretty dress on, to fuss in the mirror, and ask for lipstick, too (I am NOT KIDDING. SHE’S 10 MONTHS OLD AND DOING THIS!).

My cousin Morgan, who is a SAINT, came over yesterday (and stayed til 3 am) and helped out by singing/playing guitar/helping me get her to bed- and by making me drink some wine to calm my frazzled nerves. Maisie was dancing and singing and enjoying herself, as usual.

Honestly, I CANNOT throw a cocktail party or a hootenanny every time this kid is bored. It’s just not a do-able thing.

Morgan has three sons, who are roughly around the age of my youngest boy. They are wonderful, well-adjusted, loving children.

Morgan: “You know, letting her cry a little bit and soothe herself won’t kill her…”

She proceeded to instruct me on leaving for 5 minutes, then coming back, and repeating, yadda.

My rational mind can agree and comprehend this, but my irrational mommy bits say:

“OMG, you horrible mother, pick her up and FIX THIS!”

At the same time, my brain is ALSO screaming:

“If I don’t walk out of this room RIGHT.THE.FUCK.NOW. I WILL THROW MYSELF OUT OF THE NEAREST WINDOW”

I guess you could say I had forgotten about this part of child-rearing.

When I did as Morgan instructed- Maisie miraculously fell asleep within FIVE MINUTES.

I think a few things are going on here, besides the separation anxiety part:

– She’s teething. Baby Motrin, little teething tablets, a teething necklace- I’m doing all of it.
– She IS a little spoiled.
– She’s bored (I think this is a huge part)

As my dad said, when he first witnessed her meltdowns (and I’m paraphrasing here):

Papa:  “I was wondering when this was going to happen.  It was inevitable.”

To ANY parents/grandparents/people who are reading this:

HOW DO *YOU* (or DID you) handle this type of thing/separation anxiety phase?

I’ve received great advice on distractions, toys, and other things I could give her in lieu of carrying her around from a few friends. I am in serious need of input. Any advice would be INCREDIBLY APPRECIATED.

UPDATES:

Found some terrific articles online that I will be trying out ASAP.
If any readers out there are in the same boat as me, they’ve given me a glimmer of (sane) hope!

On the “screaming phase”
http://alphamom.com/parenting/baby/the-screaming-phase/
 

“Why your 9 month old is so difficult all of a sudden”

http://babyshrink.com/2010/why-your-9-month-old-baby-is-so-difficult-all-of-a-sudden&nbsp;

5

Maisie’s Newest Silver Baby Bracelets from Claire Lush Designs!

New Silver Cuff Bracelets from Claire Lush Designs!

New Silver Cuff Bracelets from Claire Lush Designs!

 

Got more baby jewelry swag in the mail today from Claire Lush Designs!

In today’s package, she received a V-shaped silver cuff and a heavier silver patterned cuff, plus two thin silver cuffs for a friend’s daughter.

They look ADORABLE on Maisie.  I had to move the Puravida bracelets over to the other hand, which is no mean feat when you have a squirming 10 month old.

A happy Maisie with Papa (my dad)

A happy Maisie with Papa (my dad)

My parents were here visiting, so photos were snapped with the kid only in her diaper and jewelry. She’s going through a “MAMAMAMAMAMAMA” phase and doesn’t want anyone but me usually, so it’s a good thing when people visit and she goes to them- gives me a slight break, which I sorely need.  She refused to nap for 2 days and finally went down for one this afternoon.

She only seems to have 2 speeds lately:  “Pick ME UP!” or “DANCE TIME!”

Here is a video of her dancing with my parents in the background:

0

Parenting After 40: Nostalgia and Raising Baby on the Front Porch…

View of my hammock and front porch... where we spend most of our time

View of my hammock and front porch… where we spend most of our time

Raising a child these days is so different from when I had my ‘first brood’ of three sons 26-17 yrs ago. Life is so much faster, more ‘plugged in’ than it was when my boys were young.  All of the ‘mommy friends’ I have now are about the same age or a wee bit older than my oldest son. We make playdates, talk online, or text on Facebook. Other mothers discuss phone/tablet apps and other electronic entertainments for their kids- which leaves me a bit overwhelmed. I remember a slower, more face-to-face time- and I miss it.

I live in a huge 102 yr old house on the corner of a semi-busy residential street- not far from the beach and downtown. I’ve owned this house for many years and raised Maisie’s older brothers here. It is always in flux, always in a state of renovation or some sort of pleasant (and sometimes unpleasant) chaos. We have very little yard, so I utilize every square inch of it, gardening even the city tree lawn. I grow veggies in raised beds and roses everywhere else. We own three lazy, gigantic Newfoundland dogs who are always snoring away in some odd corner.

Miss Maisie with Tiberius, one of our newfs.

Miss Maisie with Tiberius, one of our newfs.

My favorite part of this house is the wide front porch-where people who visit sit, smoke (if they smoke, because I don’t allow that in my house), drink coffee, and chat till late in the summer evenings. Maisie plays on it and has a small swing she loves. I have a hammock addiction and hung one in the front, too. I love to lounge with the baby there on warmer summer days.

this is how Maisie meets new friends- she calls out to the moms pushing their strollers down the street...

this is how Maisie meets new friends- she calls out to the moms pushing their strollers down the street…

People ask me why I’d spend so much time in the FRONT of my house, where it is so public… I like people watching (and I also have no backyard to speak of). It reminds me of my childhood, when people were not so hidden away from each other.

sharing bread from the farmer's market up the street with her grandfather

sharing bread from the farmer’s market up the street with her grandfather

My family is loud and friendly and argumentative and we spend most of our summer days and nights out there, probably to the chagrin of our neighbors. Nowadays folks cloister themselves away in their houses or backyards, unless they’re walking dogs or pushing strollers. My family is one of the few in my neighborhood who use their front porch as a living space.

where most of the action happens

where most of the action happens

When I was a child, I grew up not far from where I lived now. In those days, it was common to see people outside on their porches in the evenings. Children played on the sidewalks, rode their bikes.  Parents and grandparents worked in their gardens. Neighbors laughed and talked after supper. Women would hang their wash in the backyards. Everything was noisier and more ALIVE.

I still do most of those things. Most folks do not. It makes me sad.

The stillness and silence of these neighborhood streets is so unnatural to those of us who remember how it used to be.

the town I live in- and where I grew up- circa 1950s-60s.  We used to have a very famous amusement park here.

the town I live in- and where I grew up- circa 1950s-60s. We used to have a very famous amusement park that was torn down in the early 1970s.

Only when our town has festivals or fireworks or something similar does it come alive again. Our population swells with the FIPs (that’s Michigander for “Fucking Illinois/Indiana People) and out of townies who become weekend/vacation residents. A lot of people complain about these times, but I don’t. I love it when I can see humans out and moving and not hiding away inside their homes like Mole People.

Maisie and one of her front porch fashion shows

Maisie and one of her front porch fashion shows

I love raising Maisie on our front porch, watching her try to interact with her grandparents and friends and other family members.  Our world is so different now- people are less connected, more plugged in to the virtual world. I want her to learn to socialize and to say “Hi!” and wave to the folks who pass by on the street. I want my child to understand what life can be without the internet and iPads and all the other things that children these days rely upon for entertainment.

I think this is one benefit of being a mother over 40.  I remember what childhood used to be like and want my daughter to celebrate and enjoy the simpler things- like connecting with loved ones on summer days on a front porch.

Other new parents over 40:

How do you think your parenting style differs from younger parents?  

Feel free to leave a message in the comments section.